In memorium

We got two amazing cats when we finally moved into an apartment that allowed them.  Little Kitty and Big Kitty.  We’d initially gone to get Little Kitty and decided she needed a companion.  Big Kitty was in her room at the shelter.  A big soft short-hair calico, mostly white with small black and ginger patches.  When we came in the room, she was sociable, gave us some love and pettings and then after a while went back to her little house area.  After checking out the other cats, we decided she was just right… loving and sociable but not too clingy.

Her sheet said she’d come from a house with too many cats and that she loved dogs and children.

The women at the animal shelter said she had a heart condition and they didn’t expect her to be adopted.  They hadn’t even listed her.  We’ll take her anyway, we said.

We gave her heart medication each day.  DH picked up her prescription refill today.

She was a beautifully behaved cat.  She didn’t go on counters (except when she thought we weren’t looking and then would jump down if seen), and never understood why we let Little Kitty jump on them.  She mainly just tolerated Little Kitty, but she also taught semi-feral Little Kitty how to do important cat things, like how to meow.

Big Kitty always wanted to be alpha cat, even though Little Kitty doesn’t understand social hierarchies.  Sometimes Little Kitty would accidentally become alpha, which was always funny because Little Kitty was about half the size of Big Kitty and really had no idea what was going on with the dominance games.

Big Kitty liked hard catfood a lot, and deferred to Little Kitty over who got first dibs on the soft food because that’s the one thing Little Kitty would defend, and it’s easier to keep your alpha status if you don’t have to fight for it.

Big Kitty’s short hair turned out to have a longer undercoat in the winter.  She was the softest kitty imaginable.  We had to make sure she had special catfood because she’d throw up most kinds of high quality food, but Little Kitty needed something high quality to keep her fur from getting dry.  We won’t have to buy Purina One Sensitive Systems anymore.  We also had to ration her food because otherwise she’d throw it up (and she’d get overweight).  After many experiments with water pistols and so on to try to keep her from waking us up wailing for food, we set up a catfood timer.  We’ll have to reset that for one cat, or just get rid of it since Little Kitty never overate anyway.  Or maybe Garage Cat will start sharing with Little Kitty now that Big Kitty is no longer keeping him in the guest bedroom.  I suppose we could move his stuff now.  These words seem so cold but my heart is breaking so hard every time I think about how things are going to change.

DH was her favorite.  Occasionally she’d try to take my side of the bed so she could be with him.  But she’d give it up grudgingly.

She was super cuddly with me when I got pregnant both times.  After DC1 was born and before we started cosleeping, we’d close the door because Big Kitty loved the Pack N Play and you don’t want to accidentally smother a baby.  Big Kitty would wail outside the door to be let in.  It was so much easier to sleep when we gave that up.

As advertised, she was great with children.  Wonderful with both babies.  She started swiping a bit at tail pulls and so on when DC1 got old enough to know better, but with DC2 she didn’t even mind those, especially since we’d give her hairball treats after each new indignity.

She was great at finding missing kittens when we misplaced them.  She’d guard and hiss, but was never actually mean to the four stray cats.  She used every one of the extra litter boxes.

She had her favorite spots in the house.  DC1′s bed, both on top and under.  The corner of my closet.  The armrest on the overstuffed chair.  She won’t be there anymore, even if traces of her soft white fur still remain.

At 4 something pm when DH was home, she started panting and meowing and her back legs didn’t work.  While I got the kids, DH called the vet and then another bigger vet and got her in the carrying case and took her to the hospital.  She’d had a stroke and was in a lot of pain.  A heparin shot would loosen that and she might survive, but given her heart condition, it was unlikely she would make it after her blood started flowing again and even if she did, she’d continue to have strokes.  DH had to make a decision and he couldn’t contact me because my phone was dead, so he called his mom.  Big Kitty was in pain and didn’t know what was going on and he petted her and said goodbye.  When I finally got home and called him I couldn’t understand what he was saying because he was crying so hard.

The vet has said many times that Big Kitty has lasted longer than any other cat she’s seen with this heart condition.  She wasn’t an old kitty, but she was middle aged.  Still spry, but not quite as much as she used to be.  Without the heart condition, she probably would have had many more years, but with the heart condition, we’re lucky we’ve had her this long.  They asked DH to donate her body to the state vet school because of it and DH decided to do that.  They’ll send us a cast of her paw in return.

It’s so hard to believe she won’t be around anymore.  She’s gone suddenly with only an hour or so of pain; she didn’t waste away.   If we didn’t have to change anything I could just pretend that she’s in a different hiding spot than where I’m looking.  I wouldn’t have to know that she’s gone.  She’s lived a good life and was a wonderful kitty.  We will miss her so much.

Good-bye, Big Kitty.  We will always love you.

Big Kitty's last photo

Big Kitty’s last photo

What do you call your pets (or children)?

Obviously your pets have names, but chances are that’s not what you always call them.

We have Big Cat and Little Cat.  Sometimes we call big cat, “butterball.”  Little cat can be, “baby kitty.”  We may occasionally say “snuggly wuzzikin,” or “kittikens.”  We have some nicknames based on their real names as well.

#2 :  Mine is baby.  fuzz-face.  goober.  fuzzball.  gooberkitty.  sweetie.  [name]-baby. kit-kit.

Children are “snuggle-bun” and “snuggers” and “baby” and  “precious” and “honey.”  Also “little/big guy/girl” as appropriate for age and expressed gender.  Occasionally a “cutie-patootie” will sneak in.

What do you call your pets (or children)?  If you have/had neither pets nor children, what were you called growing up?

What do you call your own partner?

Previously we talked about what to call other people’s significant others.  But that was cold and impersonal.  What about the special someone (if any) in your own life?

#1:  He’s “my hero” and “snuggle bun” and “beautiful,” occasionally, “beautiful, wonderful.”  In the winter, I sometimes just call him, “warm.” He used to call me “sweet stuff,” but I think it’s been several years since he used that as a nickname.  Now I’m generally “precious.”  Also “wife” and “sexy wife.”

#2: Um.  We have nicknames for each other, but they are personal.

I call both him AND the cat sweetie.  I also call my partner love, baby, honey.  He calls me “love” sometimes.  Sometimes I call him ridiculous things like snooky-ookums, but not seriously.  And I call him “sweet one”.    Oh yeah, and cute-patootie.  But mostly we use the personal nicknames when we’re expressing affection.

If you’re partnered up, what do you call your own significant other, like to hir face?  What does ze call you?  How do you refer to hir to other people?

Marriage: A deliberately controversial post

Mawwage is what bwings us togevver… today.

With the media surrounding the protection of marriage act or whatever it’s called [Update:  moving this post up from July 10th because DOMA, the "defense of marriage act", is NO MORE.  YAYYYYYYY!!!!!], several feminist bloggers have been making the argument that marriage as an institution should be thrown out.

They argue it has a bad history in the patriarchy of oppression.  It treats women as chattel, etc. etc. etc.

They say we should get rid of it (but while we still have it, everybody should have the opportunity to use it).

Some, but not all, of them argue that monogamy itself is flawed and marriage prevents polygamous and polyandrous and other types of multiple love arrangements.  Some, but not all, argue that marriage is a way that some women feel superior to others.

We at grumpy rumblings are pro-marriage for those who want it.

Marriage as defined today is a mostly standardized contract that is defined by law, case law, and culture.  For the most part, if you enter this contract in the US, you know what you’re getting into, at least in the state where you’re getting married.

If the patriarchy is overthrown, marriage can still exist. We can get rid of marriage and the patriarchy will still be there.  It might be a step, but then again, it might be a better step to transform marriage from within.  Maybe.

People who want to experiment with different types of [ex. non-monogamous] relationships can (in the US anyway). They just have to enter into different contracts, contracts that aren’t called marriage. That argument doesn’t work as an argument against homosexual marriage– allowing gays and lesbians to get married does not at all change a heterosexual marriage contract (meaning there is no reason for a “civil union” if they can just get married), whereas allowing polygamous marriage under the same license does.

Without marriage, we would need more contracts. And there’s nothing stopping us from having all those more complicated contracts now, but most people are happy with the standard cheap one.

I strongly believe in the monogamous marriage contract and I want mine protected. I don’t really care what other people do with their lives in the privacy of their bedrooms (or lawyers’ offices), but I like the protection of my contract.

As for, “marriage is a way that some women feel superior to others” as an argument, all we can say is Thank God (and women’s rights activists) that (while there is still sexism) women can have education and jobs now and can feel pity for any woman whose only claim to superiority is having a husband.  Because that’s really seriously sad.  Seriously sad.

New research shows that debating, and especially banning, gay marriage makes LGBTQ people less healthy.

We’re also fine with, “Civil unions for everyone, marriage can then be only a religious thing, all couples get civil unions for legal purposes and may then choose to have a wedding ceremony for religious reasons if they wish, all regardless of gender.”  But that’s some ways off.  Separating the legal and the religious is always a good thing.  You could still have a ceremony to socially mark the legal joining, but that would be a civil union.  Civil unions for all!  But again, that’s not today.  For today, marriage for all!

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Money can’t buy me love

But it sure can make our lives easier!

Remember what, 13 years ago?

We were about to move to a new city (well, technically we were about to drive to Canada, but in a few weeks it would be a new city).  We had about 4K total to our name, much of it saved up from my work-study jobs in college.  When we got to the city, we slept on the floor of a friend from college at night and searched for housing during the day.  We ended up in a tiny 10×10 apartment.  We had to borrow money from my parents to put down a deposit.  We walked everywhere because we couldn’t afford the 70 cents to take the subway until school started and we got our subway passes along with our stipends.  We bought used kitchen equipment for $20 and a terrible desk for $10 from some people who were leaving, and a new futon for $120 and a paste-board dresser for $80.  As the pastor who married us suggested, we ate a lot of macaroni and cheese.

We bought an overpriced bed with that first stipend (after paying my parents back), and a Le Creuset pot.  I remember calling my dad before making the purchase because he’s the most skin-flinty person I know.  He argued that we spend more time on the mattress than any other place and it’s important to get a good night’s sleep.  Also Le Creuset pots last forever.  In retrospect, we should have tried to bargain the guy down on the mattresses, but it did last 10 years without problem (although the salesman swore it would be good for 15).  We had to put that purchase on three different credit cards because we didn’t have enough of a line of credit to put it on one.  The guys at the shop said they broke up purchases like that all the time.

We ate mostly vegetarian and lots of cheap starches.  We’d go to the open air market once a week and stock up on veggies, and then we’d rush home to process them before they went bad.  Soon after school started, we got an offer to move to student housing– a two room 10×30 apartment for the same price.  We jumped at the chance and broke our lease.  We didn’t lose all of our deposit though because our old place filled up very soon after we left.  After a year we had enough saved to pay for car insurance, and we retrieved my car from my sister, complete with shiny new dents.  (That a lot of random people in the city wanted us to know they could fix whenever they saw us in a parking lot.)

After two years there, we moved to be RAs.  Our apartment was still two rooms, but smaller, and we shared a kitchen with the students.  Saving 20K/year on rent, we were able to save quite a bit of money.  We bought a video projector which we still have.  I can’t believe we just had to get a new bulb for it.  We’re growing older, my beautiful love.

After two years of that, we realized we’d need more time to finish our dissertations, and left the students.  We had a hard time deciding between a smaller apartment and greater savings or a bigger apartment and finally having some space to ourselves, maybe getting a cat.  One of your labmates told us her apartment building had two openings, and we visited, and we picked a large apartment.  It was expensive and falling apart, but oh, in such a lovely neighborhood.  And the kitchen was tiny and awful, so we had a granite-top bureau made to extend the kitchen space to our dining room.  We also impulse-bought an expensive butcher block that we don’t need and has been a pain to move, and a lovely dining room table.  Our dining room here looks a lot like our dining room there, though we no longer use the butcher block except to hold our knives.  We traveled out to the suburbs and bought a living room set and felt a little bit like grown-ups.

Before we even moved in, we drove out to a no-kill shelter and got our kitties.  The baby who had had babies, so tiny and yellow who became my best friend when I gave her chicken and who cleaned up to a lovely lively white and black cutie within a few days of not being surrounded by scary big cats.  The big kitty who loved on you just the right amount at the shelter and has the same heart condition as your grandma.   They’re currently reminding you of their presence through generous gifts of cat-hair, just as they have every summer.

An increase in income and change in location meant we could upscale our food choices.  Whole foods, Trader Joe’s… but we still walked to the local grocery too.  The walk to WF was nicer.  Heck, our entire neighborhood was lovely.  What a change from our first 4 years.  The radiator may not always have worked correctly and might have been prone to flooding, and the water from the pipes might sometimes have been dangerous, but we still loved that apartment.

And then with one thing and another we got jobs and with the money we’d saved we had a housing down-payment equivalent to what we’d need if we were paying on mortgage what we’d paid on rent.  Silly us, we thought we’d need a house this big.  But it’s a lovely house.  And somehow right at the top of our price range… the most expensive place we looked at.

When we first got here, after the downpayment and expected and unexpected fees and emergency expenses, we couldn’t afford to buy a w/d, or rather, we could get cheap ones, but we wanted nice ones.  So you took our laundry to the local laundromat/pub.  (Why don’t more towns have that combination?)  We were about to get new furniture when our planned second car purchase got pushed up by an F150′s sudden stop.  And then suddenly we had a baby and money and no time to get more furniture.  But we didn’t need it– toys from your parents and children’s books from mine ended up filling every available space.

We finished furnishing the house right before going on sabbatical.  Pardon, Faculty Development Leave.  We don’t have sabbaticals.  People suggested putting pictures on the wall so the place didn’t seem so bare.  So we did, from one of those cheap home furnishings places.  I’m not sure if it helped.  We split that living room set across the two living rooms.  Eventually we rented the place out, even though it was furnished.

We’d saved a year’s spending to go on that faculty development leave, and we enjoyed it to the fullest extent.  I wonder if we’ll have another year like that again.  In the end, we still had money leftover and made a pretty big dent in our mortgage when we got back.  You tried out the self-employment lifestyle that year and liked it, even though your company didn’t bring in very much.  But we didn’t mind.  Your business partners though, their wives didn’t make quite as much as yours, and they didn’t like each other as much as they both liked you.  And so the experiment ended and we went home to our regular jobs.

Back at home you toyed with keeping your job, maybe going into administration.  But your heart wasn’t in it.  So we started thinking about what we could do to make you happy with your career.  And we unexpectedly needed to start DC1 in private school.  And DC2 came along.  And now you’ve been self-employed for a month or so.

And here we are today.  Still working things out.  Happy that we saved so much so that we can have the freedom to try new things.  That we can spend on what’s important.  That we can not worry so much about so many things that aren’t important when you have money but are terrifying when you don’t.

I love you so much.  I hope that we have decades and decades more of saving and spending and living and loving together.  Life without you would be nowhere near as rich.

Related:  A year ago today.

Ask the grumpies: How much to spend on a wedding present?

Grad Advisor asks:

A colleague and I co-advised a student who graduated a couple of years ago. The student is now getting married and the colleague and I are both invited to the wedding. The colleague wants to buy a present together and split the cost, which is a great idea. The problem is that the colleague wants to buy three little-ish things that together cost $90 and split that in two. I think that’s too cheap. If we were grad students, sure, that would be a good amount, but we are both grownups with salaries and I think we should be able to buy something bigger. (I haven’t talked with the colleague about this yet as I am not sure what to say.)

How much would be customary to spend in this type of occasion? Someone told me it depends on whether they feed you or not etc. but I find it hard to believe it’s just tit for tat (i.e. I should spend no more than the price of my and my husband’s meal and drink or whatever). So what’s the etiquette?

Miss Manners definitely frowns on the idea of tit for tat.  And there really is no specific etiquette– you don’t have to buy a gift at all if you don’t want to.  I tend to give $50 in cash for friends and acquaintances and $100 in cash to family and close friends (sometimes more depending on the circumstances).  When it’s a friend who has a lot of money already, I just buy something between $45 and $80 off the registry depending on what catches my eye.  But most folks just starting out could use the money more than they can use household items, to pay off the wedding if nothing else.  (About.com has guidelines, as do many other websites.)

Honestly, you can give whatever you want.  At our wedding, we got many large checks from DH’s side for our wedding, and only trinkets from my side.  The difference being the need for social insurance in the two cultures.  If you feel like giving more than $45, then just tell your colleague that you’re planning on cutting a check, and cut the check.  Or if there’s something else you have in mind, tell the colleague you have something else in mind.

The real etiquette answer here is that you can give whatever you want, but you cannot dictate what your colleague should give.

Grumpy Nation, how much do you spend on wedding gifts?  What advice would you have for grad advisor?

How do you refer to someone’s romantic partner?

If they’re married, you can say husband or wife.  If they’re engaged, there’s various spellings of fiance.

What about all those other situations?

Boyfriend and Girlfriend sound a bit adolescent.  As do “young gentleman” and “young lady.”

We use partner a lot, but we’ve heard people complain that it often signals a non-heterosexual relationship or a couple that does not believe in marriage, and so it’s too focused to be used more generally.  (We use it anyway, just not with people who complain about it.)

#1 is a big fan of significant other, or SO for short.  She picked that up from her mom.  But Debbie M suggests that she has many others in her life who play significant roles, “Highly significant other–in a good way”–isn’t quite right either, though.

Sometimes I’ll say, “your guy” if I can’t remember the guy’s name.  (Shhh.)  But it doesn’t seem to work so well in my mind if the significant other in question is female.

We don’t say, “your old man” or “your old lady” anymore.  And with good reason!  My grandma used to say beau.  Does anybody say swain anymore?

Soulmate seems a bit personal.  I figure people can make that determination about their own partners but probably not about other couples.

Mi mama sometimes says inamorato(a).  What can I say, we’re a family of romantics.  (Though with exes, it is always “former flame”.  What can I say, we adore alliteration.)

Some other suggestions:  helpmeet? life partner? partner in Romance?  Most significant other?  Best beloved?

How do you refer to someone’s romantic partner?

We like nuts

Love nuts!  The nuttiness of the almond, the bitter tannin giving way to the rich meat of the walnut, the sweetness of the pecan, the creaminess of the cashew.

I think my favorite nut is the hazelnut.  There’s just something special about that flavor.

I like them best roasted and lightly salted, though second best without salt.  I miss TJ’s half salted nuts– they had the right amount.  (#2 likes a lot of salt)

Male chocolate chip cookies are my favorite.

Sometimes I will add roasted salted nuts to the ice cream I’m eating.  Nom.

#1: What kind of nuts do you like?

#2: many kinds
cashews. pecans. walnuts. hazelnuts. pistachios. almonds.

#1: hm
I think you will have to add to the blog post yourself
too complicated for me!

#2: hee

#1: and I’m sure CPP will say that our tastes in nuts are plebeian

#2: hehe
I like almost all nuts I have ever tried.

#1: I’m actually not crazy about brazil nuts

#2: I will eat them in with other things

#1: I used to really like macadamia

#2: oooo I forgot those. Those are really good!

#1: and I think I still like small (hazelnut sized) macadamia chunks in double chocolate chunk cookies

#2: I like macadamia

#1: I like to say macadamia

#2: gazebo

#1: exactly

What is your favorite nut?

Favorite authors to read and reread

Diana Wynne Jones

Nina Kiriki Hoffman

Terry Pratchett

LM Montgomery

Georgette Heyer

Mercedes Lackey (ok, schlocky, but hits the spot sometimes)  [#2 not a big Lackey fan]

Dorothy L. Sayers

Charlotte Bronte

Jane Austen

Anne Lamott

Dave Barry (“I wouldn’ta married her if she wasn’t a breather!”)

So, grumpeteers, who are yours?  Who do you reread when you need emotion regulation?  I actually just re-read Sex and the Single Girl because it is silly.  Sometimes I re-read John Scalzi’s books about writing.

Quick note to the most amazing person in my world

Everything I said last year is still true… except we’ve added another year and another child on the way.  I cannot tell you how much I love you.  Every day is better because you’re in it.

Thank you for:

taking such good care of me
being the most awesome daddy
making yummy ice cream
being warm at night when it’s cold
talking me down (and giving me food) when I’m irritated
being able to fix anything
feeding me when I’m hungry
listening to me when I need to think something out
suggesting things when my mind is gone
reminding me to exercise
being fun to talk with and be with
reminding me to take my lunch
being the kind of guy who regularly calls his grandma
being tall, dark, and handsome, and having a great chin
helping me get up
telling horrible puns: No wait, not that one
always being there when I need you

Like DC says, I love you *this* much, where *this* is as wide as my arms can go.  But it’s even more than that.  Like infinity.  :)

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